How to Make a Great First Impression

great first impression

Hollywood legend Will Rogers once said “you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Maybe you’ve just finished uni and are looking for your graduate job. Maybe you’re about start your adventure into higher education this September. Either way, one thing is for sure – you’re going to be meeting new people. You have had/will have it hammered into you at university that networking is the key to a successful career, but did you know that it takes just 3 seconds for someone to determine whether they like you or not? Thus, making a great first impression is vital.

Do not fear, however, your old friend Ricky has your back. Here are some proven tips for making sure your future relationships start off on the right foot.

Make eye contact

We’ve all met someone who won’t look you in the eye. In fairness, it can be a difficult and socially awkward thing to do. However, numerous studies have shown that people who can hold eye contact with others will be perceived as being warmer, more likeable, and more trustworthy. On a more basic level, keeping eye contact during an exchange is simply good manners. It lets the other person know that you’re engaged and interested in what they have to say. Afterall, who doesn’t want to be made to feel interesting?

eye contact

A simple diagram for those who think visually.

Learn the person’s name

This may sound obvious, but bear with me. American writer Dale Carnegie suggests that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. We know this to be true. Think about how great it feels when someone you’ve only just met says your name in a sentence. Or, conversely, think about how offended you can be when someone forgets your name. Names are powerful and can be used in the first few moments of meeting someone to build up an easy rapport quickly.

If you’re anything as forgetful as I am, here’s a bonus tip for remembering names. When you first learn a name, use it 3 times throughout the conversation. For example: “What did you say you’re studying, Clive?” Naturally, don’t overdo it – but this technique will help you memorize names more easily and give the impression that you care.

hello my name is

Remembering people’s names makes you instantly more likable.

Smile like you mean it

No one likes a grump. Meeting new people is mostly a fun and exciting venture, so smile like you mean it! Research has shown that smiling not only makes you look happier, but it makes you feel happier too. The great Charles Darwin was one of the first to discover this back in 1872 when he wrote “the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensi­fies it.” Smiling is not only good for you but good for others too. Happiness is contagious so pass it on whenever you meet someone new to make a great first impression.

Nic Cage Smile

For the love of God…

Be genuinely interested in other people

This is going to be hardest advice to follow for some. I can’t tell you how to be interested in other people but take it from me that if you’re just not interested in others, don’t expect anyone to be interested in you. A famous Viennese psychologist, Alfred Adler, wrote that “it is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men (/women) who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.” The most interesting, charismatic and popular people are the ones who have a deep desire to learn about the world from different perspectives. If you want to make a good first impression, always remember that everyone you’ll ever meet knows something you do not. Become interested.


Learn from other’s experiences.

There you have it, some really simple ways to make sure that people like you instantly and that you make a lasting, positive impression. Have you got any advice you could add to the discussion? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

If you are leaving BU (Goodbye! Farewell!) why not check out Emma Orlando’s article: 10 Thoughts Every Soon-To-Be Graduate Is Having Right Now.